Pakistan Politics

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  • Examining Pakistan's Democratic Deficit

    March 2008

    Pakistan Headed for an Uncertain Future

    As the time for the election draws near, the tribal frontier is getting hotter with each passing day. Suddenly rumour mills are active that the new Army Chief is bypassing Musharraf in his interactions with the Americans and is going to allow them some foothold in Pakistan. Americans are now claiming that the Afghan resistance is on the wane and the “level of violent activity in the eastern provinces is down about 40 per cent.”

    January 31, 2008

    Benazir’s Death and Pakistan’s Democratic Future

    The assassination of Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007 at an election rally in Rawalpindi raises serious doubts about Pakistan’s peaceful political transition to an era of democratic politics. Eight years of Musharraf’s rule has seen growing fundamentalism, political instability and ethnic disaffection. It was thought that reverting to a troika system would bring about the right balance between a democratically elected leader and the Army, which would help arrest disenchantment and address instability.

    January 03, 2008

    America’s Pakistan Policy in Disarray

    While the assassination of Benazir Bhutto has worsened the political turmoil in Pakistan, it has also left in disarray the US policy of attempting to nudge this crucial ally towards a democratic and stable future. The United States underwrote the deal between Pervez Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto in the hope that her return to power would lend legitimacy to the former’s increasingly unpopular rule. In Bhutto and her party, the US found moderation and cosmopolitanism – a counterforce to the growing religious extremism in the country.

    January 02, 2008

    Gilgit-Baltistan: The Roots of Political Alienation

    Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir has witnessed a series of political disturbances and violence over the past years. Though many analysts have viewed the often-violent assertions by otherwise peaceful residents of this remote and mountainous region as occasional eruptions of the Shia-Sunni sectarian divide, a careful examination will indicate the deeper roots of alienation of the population in this long-neglected region.

    January 2008

    Political Crisis and the ‘Coming’ Election in Pakistan

    The imposition of emergency in Pakistan on November 3, 2007 highlights two significant points: the crisis of political legitimacy for Musharraf and the raging war in the tribal areas which has affected the morale of the Pakistan army. Musharraf highlighted the reason for emergency to save Pakistan from greater crises. He did not hesitate to name the judiciary as one of the problems that triggered the present action.

    November 27, 2007

    Pakistan’s Political Future: Plus ça Change…

    Pakistan is getting ready for the next elections amid many uncertainties. Musharraf is caught between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (Qaid-e-Azam) [PML-Q]. Benazir is back in Pakistan without any express assurance that she would have a third term as Prime Minister. Chaudhury Shujaat Hussain is undecided about Musharraf’s reconciliation proposals and is hobnobbing with Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) [PML-N]. Within the PPP, Benazir is soft on Musharraf while veteran party leader Aitzaz Ahsan is baying for the General’s blood.

    October 30, 2007

    Musharraf in a Mess of His Own Making: Autumn of the Patriarch?

    A commentator of Pakistani origin in the US, writing in The Wall Street Journal in September 2006, coined a new name for Pakistan, i.e., Musharrafistan. He fell short of saying ‘Musharraf is Pakistan and Pakistan is Musharraf’. At one level, Musharraf had until now established his reputation as the best bet for the US and the West, as a liberal dictator and better-than-the-rest leader within Pakistan, who pulled Pakistan successfully away from the brink.

    June 19, 2007

    Prospects for Democracy in Pakistan Appear Dim

    The pro-democracy, anti-Musharraf movement launched by the combined opposition in May 2006 will once again put on trial the strength and determination of the people of Pakistan to snatch power from the clutches of the military. The Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD), a conglomerate of 15 parties, has demanded the resignation of President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz by July 31, 2006, failing which a vote of no-confidence would be moved against the Musharraf regime. The demand was made in a resolution adopted by the Alliance on July 2.

    July 19, 2006

    The Bhutto-Sharif Charter of Democracy

    Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif signed the Charter of Democracy in London on May 15. This is a politically significant step as it signals the coming together of two important parties that together gained 36.5 per cent of the popular vote and hold 72 seats in the current 342 member National Assembly of Pakistan. All political parties including the MMA have welcomed the Charter. The military government, however, has been critical of the alliance and said in a statement that this is a political gimmick of parties that have failed the people and democracy in Pakistan.

    May 29, 2006

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